Saturday, March 22, 2014

Flashback to the 80s: Johnny Be Good (1988)

R, 86 min. Directed by: Bud S. Smith. Release Date: Mar 25, 1988. DVD Release Date: Aug 05, 2003.


Lackluster and featureless film with a few interesting historical characteristics.

I love the 80s. 80s movies tend to get additional props for no other reason that I just groove on the nostalgia. Johnny Be Good failed to provide that nostalgia, despite having two members of the Brat Pack in the cast. Easily this is the worst 80s teen movie I've seen to date, and I've seen more than my fair share.

The problems here are numerous. First, Anthony Michael Hall, the only grown man on the planet to have skinnier forearms than me, as a star high school quarterback? Probably not. The only more ridiculous casting choice would have been to have Neil Patrick Harris play Cassanova or Don Juan de Marco. Add to it the cheese he imported into The Breakfast Club without any of the charm or humanity, and you have a soulless punk for a main character. Robert Downey Jr. does yet another one of his vaguely off-putting roles that survive on mere hijinks. Once you've seen one of his performances as a young man, you better appreciate what it means that he's off the blow now.

The supporting cast is just as awful, and helps this train wreck of a movie flounder helplessly as they trudge along to the inevitable end. Fortunately, you only have to sit through about an hour and twenty minutes worth of crap.

The one feature point of this movie came from the opening credits. "Introducing Uma Thurman," roles through so quickly I almost didn't catch it, and I'm not sure I would have recognized Uma Thurman in her first role if I hadn't spotted that bit of text. Sure, she was just as bad as everyone else here, but there's nothing more fun than finding a relatively big celebrity in their first s8ignificant on camera role. It's why I actually sat down and watched Hackers.

If you're looking for 80s fun, there are many better 80s movies. Hell, there are many better BAD 80s movies. I'd leave this one on the shelf to retire quietly.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Flashback to the 80s: Footloose (1984)

PG, 1 hr. 47 min. Directed by: Herbert Ross. Release Date: Feb 17, 1984. DVD Release Date: Oct 08, 2002.


I feel like a traitor to my generation here, but I'm not sure how this came to be so iconic of 80s teen movies. Bad music, horrible acting, and Kevin Bacon rockin' the unibrow. This is entertainment?

There wasn't really much I enjoyed about Footloose that didn't revolve around me wondering at how young most of the cast was back when compared to how ancient they are now. Actually, that's not true. I laughed pretty hard at the prom when that dude goes knuckle deep into his nose and then wipes it on the leg of his tux. That's class and quality we just wouldn't see in modern teen flicks.
It's possible that I missed the point of this movie by being just a bit too young to have seen it in theaters when it was first out. I never, and I repeat never, saw anyone dance like Kevin Bacon and his friends. And such frenetic dancing to some of (in my opinion) the worst music to come out of the entire 80s decade. Those who know me understand that I have a nostalgia for the 80s that is undeniable, but I just can't get behind most of what I heard here.
I also struggle to like any of the characters here. I can respect Kevin Bacon's character to a certain degree, but I can't like him. These are people that are really too far removed from anything I know. While I live in a conservative small town now, I grew up in Los Angeles, and still find it difficult to understand the insane tractor pulls and suchlike that go on.

The nose picking thing was terrible to the point of being criminal. As was the use of "Let's Hear It For the Boy" in any venue. Total fail.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Flashback to the 80s: Three O'Clock high (1987)

PG-13, 1 hr. 33 min. Directed by: Phil Joanou. Release Date: Oct 09, 1987. DVD Release Date: Sep 02, 2003.


Considering how much hype has been generated by this movie, I expected, well, more.

For those folks who like teen movies, and especially for those folks out there who like teen flicks from the 80s, this is pretty typical. It has the right formula and all the right plot devices. The story is lively and easy to follow, which are not unusual for this type of movie, but it was also strong enough on its own to keep my interest WITHOUT cheap comedy stunts and flashes of nudity or sexual situations. Let's face it. That is rare and worthy of praise, especially considering how many 80s teen comedies fell to exactly those plot devices in order to gain attention or notoriety.

For those of us who have memories of 80s TV (like totally not on re-runs), there are a lot of nostalgic faces in here. I didn't bother to do the research, but I'm fairly sure that at least one of the supporting cast is the other, less famous, half unpopular twosome from Square Pegs. And if you don't know that I'm not referring to Sarah Jessica Parker, I don't want to talk to you.

It's hard to like a main character who waits until the very last possible second to show he's got a spine. I sympathized with his position, but about ten minutes into the conflict, I was waiting for him to man up… or at least flee entirely. But, all things being equal, there really wasn't a single character here I liked. Even a little.

Watching the bully KO the teachers. Only the train fight between Spider-Man and Doc Oc is more ridiculous.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Flashback to the 80s: Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

R, 1 hr. 30 min. Directed by: Jeff Kanew. Release Date: Jul 20, 1984. DVD Release Date: Mar 06, 2007.


Classically funny and a major forward step for the fraternity comedy.

Quite honestly, this is one of the funniest movies of the 80s in my humble opinion. They poke fun at practically EVERYONE. No one is immune, no race, no creedo, no preference, no type. Everything is tongue-in-cheek and the antics of the Tri-Lams are so classic, almost traditionally fraternal that it's hard to not at least smile.

I like that they manage to make this both a typical sexual comedy for the decade and a comedy that veered away slightly for the norms. I was surprised at the lack of nudity, since comedies like Porkys were more the norm. Not to say that there wasn't any nudity, but it seemed really light.

Some of the supporting cast should have died in a fire. There were some really bad performances on the sidelines.  Strangely for a movie like this, there wasn't anything that made me cringe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Flashback to the 80s: The Princess Bride (1987)

PG, 1 hr. 38 min. Directed by: Rob Reiner. Release Date: Sep 25, 1987. DVD Release Date: Jan 26, 1999.


The most perfect fantasy movie ever crafted. Take THAT, fans of LOTR!

There really isn't much to dislike about this movie. The casting was awesome, even down to the crazier choices like Andre the Giant, the dialogue is so perfect the movie is still routinely quoted in normal conversations even 20 years later (although half the time the people doing the quoting don't know where it came from), and the story itself is pretty awesome. It's a fairy tale, but still manages to be appealing to all ages.

Part of me wishes there would be a remake of this with improved special effects. Even for the time, these effects are pretty weak. Someone should have called Jim Henson.

Andre the Giant's acting was awful, but he was perfect for the part.